The North Fork Environmental Council (NFEC) will be presenting its annual environmental recognition awards at an event on Thursday, May 16 at the Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center in Riverhead.

The NFEC’s Richard Noncarrow Environmentalist of the Year Award will be presented to Kevin McAllister, Peconic Baykeeper, for his long-standing and continued efforts to protect our waters and the wildlife which subsists in it. Kevin, celebrating his 15th year as Peconic Baykeeper, has spent the past four years working feverishly to make the connection between the quality of our ground waters and the water quality of our ponds, streams, inlets and bays to elected officials, residents and businesses alike in numerous public meetings and presentations across Suffolk County. Whether working to help protect and preserve the Carmans River, the Peconic estuary or the quality of our ground/drinking water, Kevin has consistently demanded that both measurement of the problems and foundation of their solutions be based on science and not on emotion or politics. Kevin’s leadership on these and other issues of special interest to the North Fork and Suffolk County, as a whole, makes him a most deserving recipient of this award.

Bill Toedter, NFEC president, said, “Kevin is not a scientist but he knows the value of science-based investigation and problem solving. He’s not a politician but he knows how to navigate the waters of politics as well as the waters of the bays. He has been a strong and consistent voice in the fight to protect our waters…to, in effect, protect us from ourselves.” Bill added, “Kevin wears his passion on his sleeve but it’s his work ethic, his dedication to doing what is right and his ability to challenge us to be better stewards of our lands and waters, of our future, which makes him stand head and shoulders above the rest. We are and can be an even better place to live because of Kevin’s body of work.”

Other recognitions to be bestowed at this event include the NFEC’s Environmental Champions, being presented this year to the late Bob Conklin and Jim Miller, two of the early and steady driving forces behind reversing years of destruction of habitat and blocked pawning runs with the design and construction of the fish ladder at Grangebel Park at the mouth of the Peconic River in Riverhead. With their leadership and service as role models of active, concerned citizens in trying to correct past wrongs for the betterment of the community and our future, Bob and Jim are deserving of the recognition as Environmental Champions.

George Bartunek, NFEC vice president – Riverhead, said, “Bob was the epitome of a great teacher. Even in retirement, he taught students the importance of natural ecosystems. I watched as they stood side-by-side netting spawning alewife and carrying them over the old dam which blocked the spawning run. And he taught this town – its residents and its government – that we had a duty to correct past mistakes and that together we could achieve great things. Bob had the vision and drive, and Jim Miller and his group, Miller Environmental, had the expertise to make that vision a reality.” George added, “While Bob and Jim are being recognized, we also must tip our hat to the many people, especially the members of the Peconic River Fish Restoration Commission, who not only made the fish ladder at Grengebel Park a success, but who are still driven by Bob’s vision and Jim’s work, and are working to extend the spawning runs up the Peconic River with fish passages over the other dams.”

The event is being held on Thursday, May 16 from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center on Main Street in Riverhead. Tickets will be available online at and the NFEC Web site beginning Friday, April 12 or can be purchased through the NFEC offices at 631-298-8880.

Tickets purchased in advance are $35 a piece or $60 for two. Included in the cost are a glass of wine and appetizers. Tickets purchased at the door will be $40 and $70 respectively. All net proceeds of ticket sales will be shared between the Calverton Civic Association, Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition (RNPC) and NFEC to assist these and other groups with their continued efforts to protect and preserve the environment, open spaces and the way of life on the North Fork, from Wading River to Orient Point. Elected representatives who will be in attendance to recognize the award recipients include NYS Senator Ken LaValle, NYS Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr., and Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski.

The NFEC continues its core mission as a grassroots organization to increase public awareness of key issues, educate the public and public officials about important environmental and quality of life topics, and help the public’s voice to be heard regarding the formation of key public programs, policies and legislation. Incorporated in 1972, the NFEC remains dedicated to the preservation of land, sea, air and quality of life on Long Island’s North Fork and it’s identifying motto, “Save What’s Left!”

Source: The North Fork Environmental Council press release dated April 8, 2013.

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Dawn Bozuhoski
Dawn is a graphic artist, designer and editorial assistant with many years of newsroom experience. A mother of four, Dawn is a Girl Scout leader and a longtime Riverhead resident. Email Dawn